A neighbor called saying she had a scorpion in her garage. It was between 4½ and 5 inches from head to tail tip, but was ominously larger with its pincers extended. Her intruder was the giant desert hairy scorpion, AKA the giant hairy scorpion or Arizona Desert hairy scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis); the largest scorpion in North America (Photo 1).

Photo 1. A giant desert hairy scorpion with tail extended.

Arizona is also home to the smaller, more common Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) which can grow to be 3 inches in length. It is considered the most venomous species in North America (Photo 2).

Photos 2. An Arizona bark scorpion .

At least 53 scorpion species reside in Arizona, with 8 new species described since 2000. Scorpions are arachnids, possessing 4 pairs of legs like spiders, ticks, and mites. They also have crab-like pincers, a thorax wider than its abdomen which characteristically curves forward over the back and is tipped with a venomous stinger.

Scorpions are nocturnal hunters. Their venomous sting paralyzes their insect, lizard and small mammal prey, which is then grasped by their pincers and consumed. Although the venom is non-lethal to humans, with no deaths by a scorpion reported in over 20 years, the sting is painful. Localized swelling and/or allergic reaction may occur. It’s prudent to monitor anyone stung and seek advice to determine if medical attention is required.

Depending on the species, a scorpion’s lifespan can be up to 15 years. Females frequently eat their mate following copulation and once impregnated the gestation period varies and can be up to 1.5 years. The young are born alive, not hatched from eggs, climb upon their mother’s back where they remain until after their first molt.

None of us want scorpions in or around our homes. Scorpions fluoresce under ultraviolet light which can be used on warm moonless nights to monitor and observe their activity. Placing sticky (glue) boards around entryways to the home may provide some protection, but may prove messy with pets and children. The most reliable preventative measure is to maintain a scheduled pesticide spray program to prevent a scorpion population from establishing itself on your property. This can be achieved by contracting for scheduled visits by a licensed exterminator to treat the exterior of your home. Or, purchase a pesticide labeled for controlling scorpions at a hardware store or home and garden center and do it yourself. Be sure to follow the pesticide’s labeled instructions. Spray the walls and ground around the entire perimeter of your house, paying particular attention to doorways, windows, and other entryways. For best results, maintaining complete coverage on a monthly basis, particularly during the warmer months is advisable. (The above is discussion of control measures and is not intended to be a recommendation.) It is also advisable to shake out anything that has been left outside prior to bringing it into the house. For additional information, conduct a web search on Arizona scorpions.

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